Developer’s arrest ‘comes as no surprise’

Billy G. Jefferson Jr.

Billy G. Jefferson Jr.

A Richmond developer with ties to Justin French and known for his flashy Monument Avenue home was arrested Wednesday for alleged fraud related to the state’s historic tax credit system.

Billy G. Jefferson Jr., head of River City Real Estate, was charged Thursday with eight felony counts of forging and uttering public records by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“The charges stem from the submission of false documents to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources,” according to a statement released Thursday by the State Police. “The submission of the false documents has resulted in over two million dollars in tax fraud to the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The charges were related to four of Jefferson’s real estate projects that were certified for state tax credits in 2012, the DHR said in a statement Thursday.

Jefferson was arrested in Carytown on the 3000 block of West Cary Street, according to the State Police. He was arraigned Thursday morning and released on a $10,000 bond. The state attorney general’s office will handle the case.

Jefferson did not return a call for comment. He is not facing any federal charges.

Williams Mullen attorney Charles James is representing Jefferson in the case. James declined to comment on the matter.

Kathleen Kilpatrick, director of DHR, said in a statement that the arrest “comes as no surprise” because it was DHR that tipped off state law enforcement to irregularities in Jefferson’s tax credit filings.

“During the past four years, DHR has fully cooperated with law enforcement on this matter and we intend to continue to provide assistance to state and federal partners as these investigations move forward,” Kilpatrick said in the statement.

The agency declined to specify the four properties in question.

Kilpatrick said that she still believes the tax credit program is crucial for revitalization in urban and rural areas of Virginia but that “DHR has been and remains vigilant in protecting the program against any abuses by reporting suspected fraud and cooperating with law enforcement officials.”

That’s despite high-profile cases of tax credit fraud in Virginia uncovered over the past several years, including the French saga and two developers in Norfolk who last year were charged with gaming the system.

Julie Langan, DHR’s deputy director of preservation programs, said the agency had been wary of Jefferson for about four years, dating back to the time the agency began investigating Justin French’s misdeeds.

“We had some of the same concerns with Bill Jefferson that we had with Justin,” she said.

The Tobacco Factory at 700 Stockton St. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

The Tobacco Factory apartments at 700 Stockton St. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

Jefferson, 51, partnered with French on a 225-unit conversion project called the Tobacco Factory at 700 Stockton St. and on the Parachute Factory building at 307 Stockton St.

French is serving a 16-year sentence in federal prison for tax credit fraud. French lied about the expenses he put into redeveloping old properties in order to inflate the amount of tax credits he could recoup.

In addition to his French collaborations, Jefferson’s company has amassed properties throughout the Fan and the Museum District. Jefferson’s companies or their affiliates own more than two-dozen apartment buildings along Boulevard, North Thompson Street and Monument Avenue.

His 10,000-square-foot house at the corner of Monument Avenue and Boulevard made a splash in Richmond and attracted media attention when it debuted in 2004.

According to a 2004 article from the Times-Dispatch, Jefferson designed the house around ideas gleaned from Internet searches related to the word “mansion.”

The house is valued at $1.5 million.

Billy G. Jefferson’s companies or their affiliates own dozens of Richmond apartment buildings.

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16 Comments on "Developer’s arrest ‘comes as no surprise’"

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Bart Schultz

They should arrest him for what River City Real Estate has done to real estate in this town. Just sayin’.

He may have defrauded virginia out of $2 million in taxes but he has stolen way more money from the people River City real estate rents to!! River City Real Estate and all its employees should go to prison, they are all liars and cheat their renters. Also all of his properties are completely falling apart and hazardous to live in. I should know i rented from them. The ceiling was collapsing, black mold everywhere and all the plexiglass windows blew out in a hurrican and it took them a month to replace them, pathetic. We had heroin attacks squatting… Read more »



We should always reserve judgement until the facts of the case have been presented, but I have to admit that I’m not too terribly surprised.


If the slumlord goes to prison, he may as well stay in his house on the corner of Monument and Boulevard… looks like a correctional facility:/
What goes around comes around, baby.

Glenda Kotchish

Just so sad to see developers misuse funds that the people of the State have put up to restore and recycle buildings and inner city. The old Philip Morris building had SO much potential. I hope it gets a second chance by an honest and upstanding developer. I am glad that action is being taken bring justice forward but the money is gone and misused.

Chris Bruch

Bill Jefferson did not graduate from VMI not attend VMI

Chris Bruch
Class of 84′

Richmond BizSense

Correction: A previous version of this report stated that Billy G. Jefferson Jr. is a graduate of VMI. He is not. BizSense regrets the error.


I think they should tear down his home and turn it back into a dog park! I liked it much better then what it is now.

Andrew Moore

Agreed! The last line of the article says all you need to know about his crimes against architecture.


Nice job to the DHR and AG’s office for pushing this. Everyone who was involved or benefited in French’s fraudulent schemes should pay the price.


sooooo what’s to say about the future of river city real estate? and it’s many buildings/tenants?

Bruce Hobart

I knew these two clowns were just shuck and jive artists when the Richmond media community were extolling their “rise to the top” of Richmond’s real estate developers. It just doesn’t work that way girls and boys. This business is hard work, a lot of risk and very often not profitable. It doesn’t happen overnight….when the media pumps out it’s glossy pulp and photo shots that’s when it’s time to put your wallet under the mattress and bolt the doors.


All I have to say is that if it was so completely miserable you should have never rented to begin with.The last time I checked we all have the right to view a property before we lease it.I guess you morons didn’t notice the ceiling caving in,and furthermore what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?


Us “Morons” (speaking for myself) probably can’t afford to rent anywhere else, so we are forced to deal with the horrible conditions. From the Virginia Housing Coalition, “The typical renter in Virginia earns $16.29 per hour, which is $4.43 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit.” So, it’s actually a problem that residents are priced out of a decent apartment.

Also, the IRS just doesn’t go after anyone… so it’s pretty probable that he’s guilty…

Debra Stoss

Daphne, what’s not evident when a prospective tenant first looks at an apartment or house is what problems and damage might be hidden behind furniture, or a quick coat of paint. Many problems make themselves known after a tenant moves in at which time you also become aware of a property manager’s lack of response to maintenance requests. Before you start with the name calling, you better check in the mirror first.